Monday, January 14, 2013

Corn Flour vs Corn Masa Flour vs Masa Harina

I gave up writing technical "stuff" when I retired from Auburn University. 

This little post is certainly not intended to answer all questions about the history and production of the many products derived from corn.

I have always pretty much used the terms masa, masa harina, corn and maize, a Spanish term, pretty much interchangeably. I still do, and probably always will because this term works for me. Where I live, laying hands on the specific variations is virtually impossible.

Since my husband was diagnosed as Celiac/extremely gluten sensitive, corn flour, aka actually masa harina, has become one of my very best friends. Corn masa flour is made from the whole grain, cooked in a lime solution and then ground as opposed to corn flour which is simply degermed, but not cooked. When the dried corn masa is powdered, it then becomes masa harina. The particular brand I use is MESECA. No, I am not getting anything out of this. 

So, why did I choose this particular brand since corn is naturally gluten free? This brand is Certified Gluten Free. Some brands, like any other product on the shelf, may have with words gluten free on the label with no allergen warning, but without checking directly with the manufacturer, there is no way of knowing if the gluten free product was produced in a facility that also produces wheat. Any time a gluten free product is produced in a facility that  also produces wheat laden products, the danger of cross contamination go way up.

How do I use corn masa flour? Anything that we fry, we use masa as one of the ingredients in the dredging. For example, if we are frying fish, we use a ration of 1/3 cornmeal, 1/3 mas flour and 1/3 potato flour (not potato starch). I also use it as a thickener in soups and stews, plus I have several recipes that specifically call for masa, such as tortillas and other Mexican dishes. 

There you have a very basic explanation of the differences among corn flour, corn masa flour and masa harina flour. I have included a few links just for you.

Quick Facts About Corn

What is MasaHarina?

Certified Gluten Free Masa Harina Flour

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